Effective Management Strategies Can Make or Break a Resilient Leader

While not easy, there is a formula for building resilience that can strengthen coping skills and provide more effective stress management.

The last few years are like pages of a book that have been pulled from the ashes of a fire – each page singed by flames and warped by water. Still intact, the book and its pages show the impact of intense stress.

That’s how many individuals arrive in 2023. Are they prepared for the next stressful event? Whether another natural disaster, economic downturn, or threatening illness, we can learn important resilience tips from our most high-stress professions to survive the mental and physical torment of trauma.

During to the pandemic, healthcare workers leapfrogged many other high-stress positions like police, fire, and EMT professionals on the roster of hard jobs. Nurses provided front-line care for countless lives for days, then weeks, then months of pandemic tumult. Their resilience techniques serve as a lesson for the rest of us.

Resilience is the key to fighting off adversity and negative emotions and encompasses one’s ability to recover from difficult situations. It reflects the inner strength to overcome hardship.

While not easy, there is a formula for building resilience that can strengthen coping skills and provide more effective stress management. These learned techniques can mean the difference between survival or succumbing to the next wave of bad news.

  1. Build a social network of support.

Resilience is personal and dependent on inner strengths and social networks. These social supports can come from workplace colleagues, neighbors, or community groups. Particularly, extensive research offers insights into the types of connections that are most valuable in natural disasters. Ultimately, networks and relationships of trust, reciprocity, strong connection (to each other and hierarchy), and involvement with each other build resilience.

In crisis, our first response can be on either end of a continuum. We might find ourselves isolating and withdrawing from connection, or ideally, we call upon others who are or have been in similar situations. This might be a group of individuals in the same situation sharing any information, comradery, and providing comfort. These connections can also be critical in helping us put our situation into perspective and connect to resources. These connections support us to accept and respond productively.

  1. Call upon past experiences

Fear and anxiety diminish with experience. Past experiences can shape how we respond to current situations – helping to handle new situations differently. Take into consideration what has worked in the past to endure adversity. Journaling is a positive practice to work through challenges and manage internal thoughts and emotions. Relying on a trusted mentor with veteran experience can also provide valuable perspective.

  1. Don’t ignore self-care

Self-care should incorporate many aspects of an individual’s life. In natural disasters, our stress and trauma can consume us, and we forget the basics of self-care, such as healthy eating, staying hydrated, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. Alcohol, while tempting, is not a good long-term strategy.

Attending to your physical health is important to work off stress and keep negative feelings under control. Caring for emotional health is equally, if not more, vital. Include the spiritual part of the whole being by engaging in faith or a spiritual community. Yoga and mindfulness activities can be beneficial. Continue to do the things that fuel a passion or bring joy and enrichment, such as hobbies or rewarding activities.

  1. Maintain a positive outlook

This can be incredibly difficult in the face of disaster and trauma, but research shows the impact of being hopeful and forward-facing has significant advantages.

Set clear goals and objectives that assist in looking toward the future, creating a sense of purpose, and making each day meaningful,

Set goals for yourself, even small ones, so you can feel accomplished when you achieve them. Be proactive and always create forward movement.

  1. Practice compassion

Compassion is a verb. It is not a thought or a sentimental feeling – but a movement of the heart.  Compassion is the emotional response to another’s pain or suffering, involving an authentic desire to help. Research shows that displaying and practicing compassion helps improve resilience. Remember those who lost everything in a stressful situation such as a natural disaster. Explore ways to give back to the community.

Laurie Cure and Julie Firman
Laurie Cure, PhD, is the CEO of Innovative Connections, a consulting firm focused on enhancing organizational effectiveness, located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Julie Firman, DNP, RN, FACHE, is System Chief Nurse Executive at Baptist Health in Montgomery, Alabama.